By Claie Wilson & Rachel Spencer, photography by Abbie Trayler-Smith
It’s the style event of the year. No, not Fashion Week – the aintree races. But ever wondered how much prep goes into those outfits? It’s time to find out…
Beaming into the camera lens, Becky Doyle and her three friends are having the time of their lives.Their fake tans, they smugly assess, are bang on. Their fake eyelashes, even if they say so themselves, are worthy of their own part in The Only Way Is Essex. And their dresses, from the most exclusive boutique in their hometown of Birkenhead, couldn’t fit more snugly.
Forget every little girl’s dream of a fairy-tale wedding – for these four women, their dream day is a little closer to home. Liverpool, in fact, for Ladies’ Day at Aintree Racecourse.
Once a year, 50,000 people from all over the north-west and beyond make a pilgrimage to the grounds for a day of horse racing and celebrating – but, more importantly, dressing up to the absolute nines. Becky and her friends are no exception.
As fellow racegoer Becky Nye, 25, puts it: “We don’t get the chance to go on holiday or even away for the weekends because of our family commitments, so this is a massive day for us.”
It’s also a massive event for fashion – Ladies’ Day is touted as “the ultimate style experience”. Led by the unofficial Queen of Aintree, Coleen Rooney, glamour is in glittery abundance all over the racecourse. But it’s pictures of the tens of thousands of non-celebs and their colourful outfits that we really love to pore over – the good, the bad and the often downright ugly.
So how much preparation really goes into just a few hours of fun?
Here, Becky Nye, Becky Doyle, her older sister Claire and friend Sophie Hoxby open up their astonishing diary to reveal the meticulously planned lead-up to their Aintree day, and the day itself.
Get ready for a weight-loss regime that started in January, hundreds of pounds worth of hair extensions and 20 inches worth of stilettos. Coleen Rooney’s got nothing on this lot…
Monday March 26, 2012
“Us at our weigh-in! We started our diets in January,” explains Sophie, 25, a carer. “It’s vital we look our best for race day. We did Zumba classes once a week, and every Monday we weighed ourselves at Claire’s house. We also recorded our arm, thigh, hip, bum and waist measurements on a spreadsheet (above), to see how we were doing. It was seriously competitive! We’ve lost 3½st and 12 inches between us.”
Saturday April 7, 2012
“It takes a lot of effort to look amazing on the big day, so we started our prep, the week before,” says Claire, 29, a receptionist.
“We had everything from spray tans to eyebrow tinting. This year I had a bit of a nightmare though and my brows went a bit ginger. Oops!”
Monday April 9, 2012
“This is me, spending a fortune on hair extensions,” laughs Becky Doyle, 23, a council support worker. “We’ll spend hours searching for the perfect colour match for our hair, and I’ll happily fork out up to £100 on extensions. It takes a gazillion Kirby grips to secure them on to our heads though!”
Wednesday April 11, 2012
“We felt like such celebs getting our hair and nails done,” giggles Becky Nye, a road safety officer. “We always match our manicures to our dresses, going for intricate designs.
“We pop into local boutique Tiaz, where we got our dresses, for some last-minute customising and to admire the frocks! In the past we’ve spent a fortune on clothes for Aintree, but this year we spent less than £500 between the four of us.”
9.30am, Friday April 13, 2012
“We started getting ready at Claire’s house early with bubbly and treats for breakfast,” says Sophie. “It took about three hours, leaving time for mishaps, too. Claire had to glue her stick-on bra to her chest because it wouldn’t stay on any other way! And we always rub Vaseline into our shoes to stop blisters.”
“Finally, we were all ready to go!’ says Becky Doyle. “We decided to get a taxi
to Aintree, rather than a limo, as they have to park miles away from the racecourse because they’re so big.”
“We treated ourselves to tickets in the Earl of Derby stand, which cost £80 each,” Becky Nye says. “But it was worth it as it’s right by the finish line! Our boyfriends were also at the races, but were in the cheaper Tattersalls enclosure. We avoided them though as its a girls’ day out. It’s wasn’t long before we’d placed bets with the £150 spending money we each brought.”
“We spent ages deciding which horses to bet on,” says Claire. “Then we treated ourselves to a bottle of bubbly because we won. I ended the day £40 up and Sophie bagged £80. It meant we could go and have a really good night out with our winnings – but we still saved cash by getting the bus into town afterwards!”
“Later we enjoyed rounds of wine and cocktails at a tapas restaurant to celebrate our win!” says Sophie. “Before we knew it, it was 3am and we were all a bit worse for wear. It was sore heads all round the next day, but it was so worth it!”
The Aintree Aftermath
Like Christmas or a dream wedding, it’s months in the planning, but all over in just a few hours. So is Aintree Ladies’ Day really worth all that effort?
“Absolutely,” says Becky Nye. “Nothing beats the atmosphere. It’s electric and so much fun.” Claire adds: “Last year a woman was so drunk she fell over in front of us and flashed her knickers!”
Becky says: “When we headed into town afterwards, everyone was dressed up with massive grins on their faces, as they’d all spent the day at the races too. The best bit is, in just a couple of months we’ll be booking our tickets for next year, and then the planning, the beauty regimes and the shopping starts again!”
“Ladies’ Day is all about having a great day with good friends,” adds Sophie. “It’s also about looking great, which is why we spend so much time getting ready for it.”
Claire agrees, adding that the preparations are just as fun as the day at the races.
“I especially love the getting ready part, as I know we’ll go out that front door looking our best and that’s a wonderful feeling,” she says. “Roll on Aintree 2013!”